Not every nonprofit organization can boast that it is turning 100, but the Anixter Center now can. And it’s celebrating its big birthday on May 15 in a way that’s sure to be a huge hit, with a fundraiser, A Century of Service, at the 1914 Club at Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St.

black and white photo of the original 13 female founders

The original 13 female founders of Douglas Park Jewish Day and Night Nursery

The benefit will honor the Anixter family, whose vision and commitment to serving those with disabilities has impacted thousands of individuals, helping them grow and thrive within the community. It will be chaired by Dominick Mondi, CEO of Mesirow Financial.
“What a milestone for any agency!” exclaimed Anixter Center CEO Rebecca Clark. “We are incredibly excited to celebrate the 100th anniversary –representing all of the services Anixter has provided to the hundreds of thousands of people over time. We are humbled by all the work that has gotten us this far and energized to continue into the next century.

“Anixter’s 100-year celebration at Wrigley is going to be an experience,” added Clark. “There will be access to the brand new Catalina Club, the 1914 Club, and the stands behind home plate, as well as pictures with the World Series trophy.”

Anixter, which has locations at 6610 N. Clark St. and 2032 N. Clybourn Ave., began as the Douglas Park Day and Night Nursery in 1919, serving children who had been orphaned due to the flu epidemic. In the 1950s when the need for orphan¬ages declined, the agency looked to what the need in the community was, and services transitioned to supporting adults with disabilities. Since the ’50s, Anixter has served people with a variety of needs through a multitude of pro¬grams in both day and residential programming.

Today, its services focus on three groups of people: people with disabilities, people with behavioral health needs and people who are deaf, blind, or hard of hearing. Anixter Center and its division – Chicago Hearing Society (CHS) – help nearly 8,000 children, teens and adults each year by providing a range of supports including employment assistance, residential opportunities, counseling and skill development, and other social services.

“Our clients are a diverse group of people who come to Anixter Center with a variety of needs,” said Clark. “Most have at least one disability and many have more than one. While we serve people of all income levels, the vast majority of our clients have incomes significantly below the poverty level. We want to help as many people as we can, which is why our annual benefit is so important,” added Clark.

All money raised goes directly to support the programs and services offered at Anixter Center, especially Anixter’s Disability Services line of work, said Clark.

“It is important for people to know that Illinois ranks 44th in the nation for supporting adults with disabilities,” she said. “These funds will help us support more people to be in the community, help us improve our residential homes that people live in, and help us provide best in class care to those who rely on us at a time when state funding doesn’t come close to covering the cost.”
If you can’t make it to the Wrigley bash yet would love to help this amazing organization, Anixter Center is searching for volunteers for its Jack Ehrlich Literacy Pro¬gram, where there’s a long list of people waiting to be matched with a tutor, Clark said.
The program provides adult learners with free, one-to-one tutoring based on individualized goals. Tutoring can be held on site in Lincoln Park at 2032 N. Clybourn Ave. or at a location best suited for the adult learner and tutor, such as a neighbor¬hood library. From learning the alphabet and phonics to increasing reading levels, creative writing, and computer literacy, the adult literacy program supports adult learners of all abilities. Small group instruction for computer literacy and creative writing is also available. (Interested? Contact the Anixter Center Literacy Coordinator at

Clark said she’s “very excited” to see where the next 100 years takes Anixter, as it continues its mission to enrich people’s lives.
“Our commitment is to help people be as independent in their community as possible,” she said.

Heart of the ‘Hood By Felicia Dechter; May 8 – May 14, 2019: Skyline News of the Loop, Streeterville, River North, Near North, Gold Cost & Old Town; vol. 115, no. 19